North Union’s Ricky Weigand (18) kicks an extra point out of the hold from Trey Bossaller. The Wildcats will host Graham on Friday. (Journal-Tribune photo by Aleksei Pavloff)
The 2020 high school football season was out of the ordinary because of COVID-19.
However, but despite the pitfalls the season finished with a state champion decided.
While maybe having some of the same aspects, the 2021 campaign has had its own different shape and size for the North Union squad.
Through the first seven weeks, the Wildcats (6-1) have found themselves on the road five times and played only twice at home.
“It has been just one of those things,” NU head coach Nick Hajjar said. “We sometimes think how did we do that?”
Hajjar though, added it was not something that was discussed much during the season.
“We did not make it a big deal,” he said. “It was just another week of football.”
The tide will be turned the other way the final weeks of the season.
North Union will play its final three regular season games on its home turf.
Hajjar knows that what has worked for the Wildcats in the road games remains the same for home contests.
Added to “this is just another week of football” for the Wildcats is this is Homecoming week, which brings a whole new set of issues as they prepare to take on St. Paris Graham (4-2) on Friday.
“It happens every year,” Hajjar said of the things that make up Homecoming week. “There are a lot of external things. We want the players to have fun, but still stay focused on the job at hand.”
That job is to remain on track for a Central Buckeye Conference title and the best position for the state playoffs.
North Union, Graham and Indian Lake are each battling for a league title.
The Wildcats are currently eighth in the latest Region 18, Division V computer rankings.
“Graham is a good football team,” Hajjar said. “They are very well-coached and it reflects that on film.”
Dave Taynor is in first year at coach at Graham and was formerly the head football coach at Urbana University.
“They definitely have a college flavor to their team and will challenge you in different ways.”
Leading the Falcons is senior running back Zack Vanscoy.
Vanscoy is the top rusher for Graham, totaling 716 yards on 125 carries.
He’s also the leading receiver with 19 catches for 331 yards.
Vanscoy also has a team-leading nine touchdowns and as a linebacker on defense, he has 66 total tackles, also tops on the team.
“He is a really good player and is a multi-sport kid,” Hajjar said. “He has a high IQ for sports and sees things other don’t. I appreciate the way he plays the game.”
Hajjar, though, stressed Graham is not a one-person operation.
Junior Eli Hollingsworth holds down the quarterback spot, completing 58 of 97 passes for 854 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“Offensively, they run from the spread and like to move people around,” Hajjar said. “On defense they run a traditional three-man front and are a high-pressure team no matter the down. It will be a big challenge for us.”